PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A week after a massive 4-alarm fire destroyed a Southwest Portland apartment building, fire investigators — including an arson dog — entered the structure to determine the origin of the fire.

“We are continuing our forensic investigation,” PF&R spokesperson Rick Graves said at a Tuesday press conference. That includes an investigator and an assistant who entered the May Apartments at SW 14th and Taylor and went to where they believed the fire started.

Seven members of the technical rescue team will go into the building and take measurements, Graves said, and then build some safety shoring.

The forensic investigation into the May Apartment fire began May 23, 2023 (KOIN)
The forensic investigation into the May Apartment fire began May 23, 2023 (KOIN)

“What we’re doing is creating a safe space to work,” he said. “Our primary concern today is that everyone who showed up to work today goes home.”

There remains a legitimate concern the structure could collapse and Graves said “there will be constant measurement of the danger.” That includes using spotters, gauging the wind speed and the “external environmental threat.”

The investigators will enter and evaluate whether there are multiple spots where the fire originated.

Along with the PF&R investigators, crews from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also at the scene. Police were also there.

  • The scene of a major apartment building fire in downtown Portland, Oregon from across Interstate 405 on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (Credit: KOIN)
  • An aerial view of the May Apartments at SW 14th and Taylor in Portland one week after a 4-alarm fire destroyed the building, May 23, 2023 (KOIN)

Investigators also wanted to make sure the building was clear. Although no people were found inside, officials said they did find a cat.

“We’ve got a cat to get, we’ve got some tools to get, and we’ve got some information to get,” Graves said.

To help determine the cause, PF&R investigators brought Kiki the arson dog to the site, who is trained to smell for accelerants.

Graves added it’s not clear yet if alarms went off when the fire began.